Should the New York Giants consider EDGE Kwity Paye with the eleventh pick?

kwity paye, new york giants

The New York Giants need help on both sides of the ball entering the 2021 NFL offseason. The Giants’ offense was particularly poor during the 2020 regular season. Upgrading the offense is a major point of emphasis for Dave Gettleman and the Giants this offseason. But there are weaknesses that need to be masked on the defensive side of the ball, as well.

One major area of weakness for the Giants on defense is at the edge rusher position. Patrick Graham and the Giants’ defense were able to put together a productive pass-rush this past season. But much of the Giants’ pass-rush was schemed together by Graham or generated from the interior defensive line.

New York was inconsistent pass-rushing off the edge. They struggled with injuries and often found themselves starting late-round draft picks at edge rusher. The Giants should make it a priority to find a primary pass-rusher to line up as a stand-up edge rusher in 2021. But should they find this player in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft?

One intriguing EDGE prospect that has been suggested as an option for the Giants is Michigan edge rusher Kwity Paye. Many analysts have mocked Paye to the Giants with the eleventh overall pick in the draft. There is a lot to like about Kwity Paye, but there are reasons to disagree with this mock draft selection to the Giants.

What makes Kwity Paye so exciting?

Kwity Paye’s incredible athleticism and unreachable traits make him such an exciting prospect. He has all the tools necessary to become an elite edge rusher. But he does need to refine his technique and add more pass-rushing moves to his toolbox.

At six feet, four inches, and 272 pounds, Kwity Paye just moves different for a guy his size. Paye clocked a 6.37 three-cone drill at Michigan, an utterly insane time for an edge rusher. That explosiveness and agility cannot be taught at Paye’s position. He is a rare physical talent.

Like Rashan Gary in 2019, Kwity Paye is a Michigan edge rusher that did not put up crazy numbers in college but is projected to be drafted in the first half of the NFL Draft. Paye only totaled 11.5 sacks throughout his four-year collegiate career. His best season was in 2019 when Paye played 12 games and racked up 6.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 50 total tackles.

Sack totals do not tell the full story with Kwity Paye, though. Paye is an edge prospect that frequently found himself in the backfield pressuring quarterbacks. Many of those pressures failed to turn into sacks, but he was still a productive pass-rusher in college. Maybe with some NFL coaching in a better defensive scheme, Kwity Paye will be able to turn those sacks into pressures.

Why Kwity Paye might not be the best fit for the Giants

Kwity may be an extraordinarily talented edge rusher. But he might not be the edge rusher that the Giants need. Paye is has all of the unreachable traits that NFL scouts and general managers will fall in love with. He has too much raw athleticism and talent to bust in the NFL. But his style of play might not translate to every NFL team.

Playing at Michigan in college, Kwity Paye was playing in a 4-3 defensive scheme. This means that Paye lined up as an edge rusher with his hand in the dirt, like a defensive end. Now, the Giants certainly do run a “multiple” defensive scheme, constantly changing their defensive fronts and disguising their coverages. But, the Giants’ base defense is primarily a 3-4 defense. Kwity Paye might struggle with the transition to a stand-up edge rusher after getting accustomed to the defensive end role he played in college.

Additionally, Kwity Paye is a raw prospect. He needs to be molded into an elite pass-rusher. But he will not be an elite pass-rusher instantly, especially if he has to change positions. The Giants are in need of an instant-impact player with the eleventh overall pick. There are other players at other positions better suited to help the Giants win in 2021 than Kwity Paye.

New York Giants at least three years out from contention, says ESPN

New York Giants, Austin Mack

Winning a Super Bowl is the goal that every team in the NFL has. And after some dark years, the New York Giants might be on the right path. According to ESPN, they could be in the mix around three years out based on the way things are going right now. That assessment came in a ranking of every team in the league and their hopes for the Super Bowl.

Last Super Bowl appearance: 2011
2020 FPI rank: No. 26

Strategy for becoming a Super Bowl contender: Keep building piece by piece. The Giants believe they established a strong foundation and culture last year in coach Joe Judge’s first season. Team owner John Mara said he saw “progress.” Now it’s about adding big pieces to supplement an improving defense (a top edge rusher) and admittedly finding playmakers (No. 1 receiver) to help quarterback Daniel Jones and the offense. Still a ways to go.

Three years is longer than Giants fans would want but it could be far worse than it is right now. Under Pat Shurmur, it seemed like the Giants were much further removed from contending and many comparisons were invoked with franchises like the Browns or the Raiders. There was little confidence in the organization all around, which was changed in one year of better coaching and good free agency additions.

The list names Daniel Jones as the biggest X factor for the Giants and claims that they don’t have a chance if he doesn’t take a big step forward. Jones right now is middling when compared to other QBs statistically, and has some of the worst turnover numbers in the league.

But the fact that the Giants are in a position to start winning and move into contention at all with some better quarterback play shows their improvement. After all, they have far from the worst QB situation in the league and many believed before Daniel Jones was drafted that they would draw another parallel with the Browns when it comes to looking for their new starting quarterback.

Kevin Knox plots plan to earn his way back into Knicks rotation

Kevin Knox is trying his best to stay positive after another fall from grace.

The third-year forward was a healthy scratch in the New York Knicks‘ last two games, preceded by two consecutive scoreless performances. He’s become the latest casualty of Tom Thibodeau’s win-now mentality.

Recurring nightmare

He had similar nightmares last year. And Knox is drawing strength from last season’s harrowing experience where his minutes were sporadic.

“Last year was a little low, but I really learned a lot from last year being ready at any given time. Just continue to work no matter how much playing time you get,” Knox told reporters via zoom call after Wednesday’s shootaround in Chicago.

With the Knicks’ veteran wings Reggie Bullock, Austin Rivers, and Alec Burks all healthy, Knox’s path to earning minutes is slim to none as Thibodeau prioritizes winning over his development.

“I know we have a lof great players, and our rotations can get tight. Coach makes a lot of decisions. He’s the head coach, so whatever decision he makes, I gotta respect it,” Knox said.

Best teammate

With Knox back in the doghouse, the former Kentucky Wildcat hopes to earn his way back into the rotation by buying into the team concept.

“I think that’s very important right now — just being the best teammate that I can be no matter how much playing time I get,” Knox said. 

“Just encouraging my guys, making sure I help some of the young guys — Obi (Toppin), Quick (Immanuel Quickley), and even some of the older guys if I see something from the sideline. But I’ll always stay ready, working hard in practice, going 100 percent because you’ll never know when my number will be called.”

Even if Thibodeau explained that Knox’s role with the team remains fluid and situational, unlike the case of Dennis Smith Jr., who requested to play in the G League, it’s obvious that the 2018 ninth overall pick’s stock has hit rock-bottom.

View from the bottom

There was a stretch in January when Knox led the league in corner 3, but he has since cooled off. He’s been struggling in the last seven games before his benching, shooting just 3-for-14 from deep.

Knox said he’d got a different view of the game from the bench, taking notes that he hopes to carry on the court when another chance — whenever that maybe — would come.

“You feel a lot of different things from the sideline, honestly. You see a lot of little things that you don’t really see on the court. I think a lot of people can say the same thing,” Knox said.

Vanishing chances

But four of the players who were picked after him in the 2018 NBA Draft can’t say the same thing.

Mikal Bridges has developed into Phoenix Suns’ swiss-knife army, often tasked to shadow the opposing team’s best player and still has the energy to hunt for his offense.

Knox’s Kentucky teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has become the face of the Oklahoma City Thunder rebuild, while Miles Bridges has been playing a pivotal role in Charlotte Hornets.

Michael Porter Jr. is an emerging star in Denver.

While his Draft batchmates are flourishing, Knox’s chances are vanishing.

“I’m just going to continue to keep working defensively, keep moving without the basketball offensively. Just run around and be aggressive all the time. Like I said, being ready to go in there to play hard, get rebounds, get steals, just make hustle plays, make winning plays so I can get to see my minutes increased.”

“But like what I said, whether I play or not, I just have to be the best teammate that I can be and work hard in practice and workouts. And on off days, make sure I can get shots up and continue to get my reps up,” Knox said about his plans moving forward.

Will these things be enough to earn his way back?

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Conor McGregor eager to compete again after UFC 257; wants trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier

Conor McGregor, UFC

The weekend before last at UFC 257 we saw the return of the former two-division champion, Conor McGregor (22-5). McGregor was competing for the first time in over a year and for the first time since his brief retirement in 2020.

In the main event of UFC 257, McGregor had a rematch with Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC). The two had previously fought back in 2014 and McGregor had knocked Poirier out in the first round. However, since then, Poirier has been much more active inside the octagon.

The fight started out well for McGregor. He won the first round on all three judges scorecards, and Poirier admitted that McGregor stunned him in the first. However, Poirier was doing damage that was adding up.

Poirier was peppering McGregor’s lead leg with leg kicks. McGregor was failing to properly check the kicks and the damage was really adding up. In the second round, McGregor’s leg completely wobbled from a kick and Poirier swarmed.

A few massive shots put McGregor down and Poirier walked away the winner at UFC 257. Since then, we haven’t heard much from Conor McGregor. Well, today he posted a lengthy Instagram post where he went through the fight and discussed what’s next.

Will the UFC do the trilogy next?

“I enjoyed racking up some more time inside the famed UFC Octagon,” McGregor said. “40 seconds in 3 years is all I’d had up to this bout. I was savoring every second and enjoying my work. A little single disciplined in my approach and stance with mostly boxing.”

The former UFC champion continued, “I deserved to get the legs kicked off me going in with this thinking. This is not the game to play around with. Besides this tho my shots where sharp and I was in full control. Albeit the leg attacks where building up on me throughout the course. 18 in total thrown at me, with the final one buckling my leg fully, that was that.”

“First time to experience it. Then a tremendous finishing flurry by my opponent. Hats off! A well fought fight by The Diamond. 1 a piece now with a Trilogy bout for all the marbles! Wow! Exciting!”

It’s clear that McGregor wants the trilogy with Poirier for his next outing. Right now, Poirier has said that he wants either McGregor, Nate Diaz (20-12), or Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) for his next UFC bout.

Both Nate Diaz and Charles Oliveira have said this is what they want as well. There are three viable options for Poirier. From a rankings perspective, Oliveira is the fight that makes sense. However, Diaz and McGregor are the money bouts. It’ll be interesting to see what the UFC decides.

Paige VanZant on BKFC debut: I’ll shock and surprise fans

Former UFC star Paige VanZant is ready to shock the world!

VanZant will make her much anticipated BKFC debut in the main event of the KnuckleMania against Britain Hart at the RP Funding Center in Tampa, Florida, on Friday.

Shock the world

The 26-year old VanZant, who signed a lucrative four-fight deal with BKFC, is excited to unveil the new striking techniques she learned from the American Top Team, widely considered as one of the world’s top MMA facilities and home to MMA champions.

“I definitely think I’ll shock and surprise fans. Back when I was watching some MMA, and my old UFC fights and I can see very clearly how much better is my striking now than it has ever been. I can see the growth and development. If I can see it, I think the world will be able to see that as well,” VanZant told Empire Sports Media in an exclusive interview ahead of the fight.

With the world virtually shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, VanZant was able to focus on training for this fight even after contracting the virus last September.

The global pandemic put her modeling and TV appearances on the backburner as the pretty MMA fighter has spent the last sixth months exclusively in the renowned gym in Coconut Creek, Florida.

“The most important thing going from MMA to straight boxing or MMA to bare knuckle boxing is that to focus on technique. Because it’s so important not to leave any room for error that can get you to an extremely dangerous position, especially with no gloves on, it can leave you with a cut opened or a knockout. You really have to be one of the smartest fighters out there and really stick to your game plan and not leave any room for opening,” VanZant said.

VanZant said American Top Team has a bare knuckle boxing program, which helped her tremendously prepare for the fight.

First Test

Hart, who has enjoyed more success as a boxer than in BKFC, will pose her first test in the promotion. The Virginia native has a 4-4-3 record as a boxer and a 1-2 slate in BKFC. But she has the momentum coming off her first BKFC win — a fourth-round TKO against Randine Eckholm — and is eager for a big follow-up against the promotion’s newest star.

“She’s really tough. [She’s] a veteran at the sport. [She’s] had professional boxing matches, Bare Knuckle Boxing matches so she’s super tough and experienced. That’s why I’m super excited about this matchup because I have to fight somebody who’s known in the sport and she absolutely is. She’s fought some of the best female professional Bare Knuckle boxers and I’m excited to test myself,” VanZant said of her opponent.

Hart has a big chip on her shoulder after Paige said the fight “sounds like an easy win” upon accepting her challenge.

Bloody Fight

In what promises to be a brutal and competitive fight, Paige, known as ’12 Gauge’ in the MMA circuit, isn’t worried about leaving the ring with a bloodied face as long as she gets the win.

“A lot of people think [Bare Knuckle boxing] is more brutal but for me, I see it as the opposite. MMA is more dangerous, especially for long-term injuries. You’ll see in Bare Knuckle boxing, people can get cut opened but that’s only superficial. Coming from the UFC to Bare Knuckle Boxing, I’m not necessarily worried about getting cut open. That’s not a big deal for me. The superficial part of it will heal. But long-term damage like tearing your knee, getting kneed on the face or head is so much worse than I think a punch in the face,” VanZant explained.

The VanZant-Hart fight will be available Live on Pay-Per-View including DISH, DIRECTV, IN DEMAND, ROGERS, SASKTEL, SHAW, and VUBIQUITY, and via the digital app FITE, as well as the BKFC website www.bareknuckle.tv/orderppv.

KnuckleMania starts on PPV at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PM and will be distributed by Multi Vision Media.

Two Free Preliminary Fights will be broadcast on the BKFC YouTube Channel and Facebook pages starting at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

UFC books Sodiq Yusuff – Arnold Allen

The UFC is in the process of finalizing a big time matchup in their featherweight division. MMA Junkie was the first to report today that the promotion is booking a matchup between top ten contenders, Sodiq Yusuff (11-1) and Arnold Allen (16-1).

The matchup is set to take place at a UFC Fight Night on April 10th. This will be the first time either man will have stepped into the cage in over a year. The last time we saw Yusuff was at UFC 246 in January of 2020.

That night, Yusuff took on the tough Andre Fili. While File was able to push Yusuff, Yusuff still picked up the unanimous decision victory. The win was his fourth straight since earning a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series.

Yusuff has a ton of hype behind him and there is a great amount of interest in this featherweight contender. He will make the walk on April 20th as the tenth ranked contender in the division. For the first time, he’s going to be facing a fighter ranked above him.

UFC Top Ten Featherweight Showdown

Just like with Yusuff, the last time we saw Allen in the UFC was in January of 2020. That night, Allen was able to pick up a decision win over Nik Lentz. Allen joined the UFC back in 2015 and has fought seven times for the promotion.

While he’s been fairly inactive, Allen has had a great start to his career with the promotion going a perfect 7-0. The English born featherweight will have a massive opportunity on April 10th.

Allen will make the walk as the ninth ranked featherweight in the UFC. Should he be able to pickup a win over Yusuff, it is very likely that he could get a top five opponent in his next matchup. There’s going to be a lot on the line in this one in April.

Leaning more on Noah Dobson might finally fix the Islanders’ long-standing power play woes

The Islanders found out yesterday they will not play till at the earliest Saturday against Pittsburgh. And as I wrote yesterday this mini-break should give them time to reassess things, including the power play.

Problem is, the Islanders have been reassessing that part of the game for far too long now.

It’s basically their kryptonite.

The complaint for years now has always been they don’t have a sniper. And it’s true, they don’t. But what catches the eye more is the team’s inability to have clean zone entries. That dynamic in itself has only brought upon more frustration from everyone who watches this team play.

Chatting with someone on this yesterday — and because head coach Barry Trotz said there would be an emphasis on special teams with the extra practice days this week — we agreed Noah Dobson could be the answer to their ongoing struggle.

With all due respect to Nick Leddy, who’s been at the forefront of the team’s power play for years, he just isn’t cutting it anymore as the the carrier or facilitator of the puck. Do his rushes work sometimes? Yes. A majority of the time though he too struggles to get the right zone entry, thus leading the team to have to restart and see precious time tick off their chances. It’s not just him that’s the root of the problem. Several others who make up both club’s power play units try too hard or too little at times. Even Mathew Barzal isn’t adverse to not this type of criticism.

But Dobson has the ability and the wherewithal to finally alter that, making the man-advantage just that, an advantage.

The Isles saw first hand in the Conference finals having to deal with Victor Hedman how much a puck-moving d-man on the power play can make the a difference. Dobson might be too early in his career to be compared to Hedman, but the same traits are there. He’s already taken on more responsibility this year with the absences of Devon Toews and Johnny Boychuk, and it seems he is hungrier for more. Plus, we’ve already witnessed how smooth he is with the puck on his tape early on this season — which can be attributed to his excellent skating — and that he can facilitate, is not afraid to shoot and can find ways to transport the puck into the offensive zone; Dobson leads the team with three power play assists.

All of those aspects combined are what has plagued the Islanders and let them down in the biggest spots for years now.

You would think changing coaches, strategies, the players who make up the groups could change their fortunes. It hasn’t. Just on this latest road trip, the power play went a dismal 2-for-18. Overall this year, the Isles power play is 19th and converting at just 15.7%, according to covers.com.

When are things finally going to turn the corner?

It can start by the team leaning on Dobson to be essentially their “power play quarterback”.

The Athletic released their projections for next year’s Winter Olympics for the USA and Canada, and there is a little Isles flavor too it.

Mathew Barzal, who will most likely be a shoe-in for Canada, made the cut as a part of a star-studded, Hall of Fame group. While for the Americans, Anders Lee got the nod.

There’s an debate to be had as to whether Brock Nelson should be in over Lee for his performance over the past two years.

We’ll know more about what Team USA will look like towards the end of this year.

UBS Arena announced its first musical act earlier this morning. The Weeknd will be headlining the building in April 2022. The caveat to the announcement was that the news was not tended to be the arena’s first show.

That will most likely be intended for Long Island’s own Billy Joel and will come before the Islanders take the ice there in October.

Edson Barboza becoming frustrated with the UFC

Edson Barboza

One of the most exciting fighters in the UFC over the last decade has been Edson Barboza (21-9). Barboza made his debut with the promotion back in 2010 and has had some highlight moments throughout his career.

When Barboza first came on to the UFC scene, he looked like a fighter that was destined to be a champion. However, while he’s always been considered a top contender, he never was able to make that jump to the championship level.

He’s had some opportunities in title eliminator matchups, but he was never able to get the job done. In 2020, Barboza decided to switch things up for the benefit of his career. He decided to drop from the UFC‘s lightweight division to featherweight.

He made his debut in May against Dan Ige and lost a very close split decision. Barboza then got a shot at Makwan Amirkhani in October on Fight Island and picked up the unanimous decision. Since then, Barboza hasn’t heard anything from the UFC.

Frustration with the UFC

The only reason Barboza has been in the news lately has been his movie that came out, Born a Champion. Barboza recently had an interview with MMA Junkie where he opened up about his frustrations with the lack of offers from the UFC.

“If the UFC gives me the opportunity real soon to fight the last fight (of my contract), I’m ready. If you’re gonna renew the contract, let’s what happens. Or, just let me go, that’s it. I have three options right now, but let’s see what happens,” Barboza said.

It’s clear that Barboza is wanting to get back inside the octagon. He’s currently ranked fifteenth in the featherweight division and he’s still someone with some good name recognition. However, there is no word on if the UFC is even close to offering Barboza a fight.

Considering all that’s happened, it wouldn’t shock me to see Barboza test out the free agent market after this next fight. Perhaps he could pull an Anthony Pettis and move to PFL or he could be just the latest guy to go from the UFC to Bellator. He would definitely be sought after should he hit the market.

Should the New York Knicks be concerned about RJ Barrett’s shooting woes?

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

After seven tumultuous seasons filled with uncertainty and little to no sign of resolution in sight, the New York Knicks, for the first time in a long time, have shown a small glimpse of promise and hope in 2021.

Surmounting already nine wins in 22 games played, new Head Coach Tom Thibodeau’s defensive expertise and experience has spearheaded this young Knicks team into the next pivotal step of growth and development that they so desperately needed.

Allowing only 104.2 points per game to their opponents, the Knicks currently have the best defense in the NBA and have founded their success on locking down their opposition, holding teams to a shooting average of 43.3% from the field as well as only 32% from behind the arc (ESPN).  One of the oldest philosophies in sports is “defense wins games,” and Thibodeau’s Knicks have proven first hand at how successful that approach can be.

However, on the other hand, the Knicks have not nearly had the same luck or success offensively.  Sitting dead last in the league in points scored with 102.2 per game, the Knicks are also posting one of the worst field goal percentages in the league as well (44.5%) and have scored under 90 points in 5 different games this season (ESPN).  Outside of Mitchell Robinson, Nerlens Noel, Julius Randle, and Austin Rivers, everyone else on the Knicks is shooting 43% from the field or lower, which is largely why they’ve come up short 13 times this season (ESPN).

That said, the important detail to take note of here is that it’s one thing if you’re only taking an average of about 4-8 shots per game, such as guys like Obi Toppin (4.7 FGA), Kevin Knox (5.5 FGA), and Reggie Bullock (8.1 FGA) [ESPN]. But when you have your number two scoring threat in RJ Barrett, who takes an average of 15.5 shots per game (the second-most on the Knicks, mind you) but is only shooting 43% from the field along with 27.4% from 3-PT range, it’s a completely different ballgame that can have a far greater impact on your team’s offensive success, and it’s showed with the Knicks (ESPN).

In addition, Randle is also carrying a large load of the playmaking responsibility the Knicks need on offense, and as a result, isn’t constantly leading the charge with their scoring duties.  In fact, Randle only averages 16.5 shots per game, which in comparison to Barrett, is not much of a difference from the shooting attempts he musters per game (ESPN).

Ultimately, Barrett’s scoring ability remains to be the biggest reason why the Knicks drafted him third overall in 2019, and as a result, they have become quite dependent on his offensive production.  But with an on and off start to his second season where he’s only averaging a solid 17.8 points per game, the magnitude of this concern continues to increase each day that goes by, and it’s becoming somewhat unclear whether this will change at all this year.

Although he’s still very young, Barrett had 56 games under his belt as a rookie along with a lengthy offseason that granted him plenty of time to work on his shot (ESPN).  Despite the noticeable progress he’s achieved this season, the next crucial step for Barrett is consistency.  And whether he can deliver on that for the Knicks has become a dawning concern.

But all things considered, it seems that the lingering uncertainty with Barrett’s shooting woes appears to be a short-lived issue for now.  In fact, over the month of January, Barrett presented the Knicks with encouraging signs of improvement and particularly with his shooting efficiency.  Knocking down 45.9% of his shots from the field along with a much better 35.1% from behind the arc, Barrett averaged 18.8 ppg over a 16-game stretch during the month of January, demonstrating just how big of a difference a little progress can make (ESPN).

However, what continues to be the ever-present factor that will develop Barrett into the scorer the Knicks need, is the growth of his confidence and experience in the NBA.  Coming out of high school and college where he was in a league of his own and had the ease of playing against opponents that were around his age and size, the NBA, on the other hand, is home to the best players and defenders in the world and has presented Barrett with a much bigger learning curve.

Back in high school and college, Barrett had the liberty of implementing his creativity and style of play at will, but in the NBA, he’s frequently caught himself forcing shots and has struggled to find and create high percentage shooting opportunities.  This really showed over the course of his rookie season, but throughout the month of January, has significantly improved.  His progress might not be fast enough for some, and that’s understandable.  But because Barrett is only 20 years old, the development he’s mustered so far is a good sign of what’s to come in the near future.

In a MSG Network press conference interview following their victory against the Cavaliers last Friday, Thibodeau had high praise for Barrett’s play this season, expressing just how much he brings to the table:

“I think he’s playing with a lot of poise. From the beginning of the season, the rebounding and the playmaking has been there.  He’s getting to his spots, he’s making the right reads, whether he should shoot or pass, and he can score so many different ways.  He can score in transition, he can score in the pick n’ roll, he scores off the handoff, he can score in the post, and he can score off catch and shoot.  But also, to put pressure on the defense, force the defense to collapse, and then make the right read and open up the three-point game for us.  So I really like the way he’s playing.  He’s playing very well off people, he’s playing very unselfishly, and he’s playing both sides of the ball.”

When all is said done, it’s important to keep in mind that Barrett has still so much to learn and experience in the NBA, and to think that he’s going to be shooting lights out by the end of the season, is certainly a stretch.  In other words, will Barrett finish the year with a 45% field goal percentage or higher? Most likely not.  But consistency like that is a work in progress and is closely linked to one’s ability to synchronize their developing talent with their understanding of the league and level of competition they face on a regular basis.  Essentially, it can be difficult to build consistency when you’re still so new to your environment, and that acclimating process requires time.  Although Barrett might not be able to muster much more than 44% from the field this year, the fact that it’s up over his 40% from last season is growth nonetheless that he will continue to build on.  Though the lack of consistency might be worrisome, the Knicks (as Thibodeau confidently reassured) have nothing to be concerned about regarding RJ Barrett’s shooting and scoring ability.

UFC: Nate Diaz continues calling out Dustin Poirier

The UFC is going to have to make a decision soon on what they want to do with Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC). Poirier just knocked out Conor McGregor (22-5) and established himself as the best lightweight not named Khabib in the UFC.

He has said he’s the uncrowned champion which in reality is true assuming Khabib is retired. The Diamond has proven over the last few years that he’s one of the best fighters in the world.

He’s now in a position where he has a little control over what he wants to do next. Poirier has said that he will sit out unless the UFC gives him an opponent that he’s happy with. One of those opponents is Stockton’s Nate Diaz (20-12).

Diaz is one of the biggest superstars in the sport. He was also supposed to fight Dustin Poirier back at UFC 230, however, a Poirier injury caused the fight to be called off. Diaz said recently he was training to fight Poirier next. 

Poirier has acknowledged that he wants to fight Nate Diaz even if it didn’t make sense. He told Ariel Helwani this week that a bout with Diaz would excite him. Diaz continued his callouts yesterday on Twitter.

Will the UFC book this matchup?

Dustin Poirier has said that he would let the UFC book another title fight if he’s not happy with his options. That could potentially open the door for him to move up to 170 pounds to fight Nate Diaz. Diaz’s recent callouts suggest he’s not wanting to go back to lightweight.

Poirier has said that he’s open to fighting at 170 pounds in the future. While the fight wouldn’t have any significance in terms of divisional standing, the fight would be a massive fight for fight fans.

I don’t think there are any UFC fans that would complain about a matchup between Diaz and Poirier. The UFC had their matchmaking meeting yesterday and one has to wonder if The Diamond was discussed. One thing we know for sure is that Poirier and Diaz are both down for that fight.